Kazim-Richards wants Gunners to rebound

Arsenal fan Colin Kazim-Richards admits it was a bitter-sweet moment to score the goal for Blackburn which knocked the Gunners out of the FA Cup.

Colin Kazim-Richards

But will be cheering his boyhood team on when they aim to bounce back against Bayern Munich.

Kazim-Richards, 26, netted a scrappy effort on 72 minutes at the Emirates Stadium yesterday, which was about npower Championship Rovers only shot on target but enough to inflict a first FA Cup defeat by lower league opposition on beleaguered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

The on-loan Galatasaray forward grew up in Leytonstone, east London, to a Turkish Cypriot mother and father from the Caribbean, and was on Arsenal's books as a youngster before starting his career at Bury.

Spells playing for Brighton - bought as part of a competition from then league sponsors Coca-Cola - and Sheffield United, Galatasaray, Toulouse and Olympiacos followed before his latest loan move to Ewood Park.

Kazim-Richards, though, will always be a Gunner.

"I was here as a schoolboy, so my connections are to Arsenal, I am an Arsenal fan. I love Arsenal," he said.

"I will be supporting them on Tuesday against Bayern Munich. I will have my Arsenal top on, and I will be there in front of the TV, but you know this is work.

"This is what I get paid to do and it's nice for the Blackburn fans, to give back because they have had a rough time, everybody knows what's gone on so it is nice for them to be able to celebrate."

Kazim-Richards admits it was a surreal experience to take on his boyhood club.

"I used to train under the Clock End (at Highbury) on the indoor pitches, so for me to get the goal is amazing. You dream of stuff like this and for it to come true," said Kazim-Richards, who dedicated the goal to his brother Rodney who passed away as an infant from Edwards Syndrome.

"My dad was in the crowd, he comes to every game so for him to see it was great. My mum was there too, so for them it was a nice day."

Rovers have been handed a quarter-final tie away at Millwall.

However, there will be little time to dream of Wembley as Michael Appleton's squad must prepare themselves for Tuesday night's trip to fellow promotion chasers Hull.

"We have to take this into Tuesday's game, because coming to places like this, no disrespect, is much better than going to certain places in the Championship," Kazim-Richards said.

"These are the players you want to play against and test yourself against the best."

The defeat to Blackburn has again brought Wenger's position under scrutiny, with the Gunners facing up to possibly an eighth campaign without silverware.

Rovers manager Appleton, however, insists the French coach deserves continued respect.

"The work Arsene Wenger has put in at Arsenal is nothing short of sensational," said Appleton, in charge of his third club this season having taken over at Ewood Park in January.

"He has a philosophy about producing certain types of players and bringing certain types of players in and I would certainly pay to watch them every week.

"I admire the way they play, it's a style that hopefully, one day, I can field a group of players that can play that way."

Appleton intends to keep his players grounded.

"It is about getting the players down very quickly," he said.

"We want them to be confident going into the remainder of the campaign, but we want them fully focused."



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